Kathleen Taylor (aka KatinAfrica from East Coast Life), promised me a few tips on travelling with kids to the USA on my blog post about What kind of tourist are you? As we are planning our own upcoming trip, these tips are really great to keep in mind! Thanks, Kathleen!
My brother lives in the USA and I have been lucky enough to visit him twice since I had children. Before I had kids, packing took ten minutes and I was happy to arrive at the airport with just minutes to spare before take-off. Now life involves planning and this is especially true of an international trip. Luckily the USA is one of the easiest countries in the world to travel to. They speak English and as a general rule, kids love American food.
So here are a few tips I have learnt on our USA travels:
1. Chose the airline that you are going to fly with very carefully. America is a long (very long) flight from here. We have always chosen to fly via Europe. The long flight is overnight and the shorter hop across the Atlantic is during the day. You don’t want a long day time flight with small people, I promise you that they will go crazy. Sleeping kids allows you the time for a movie, dinner in peace and a glass of wine. Make sure that they have back-of-seat TV’s and a selection of kid’s shows and movies. Your tablet will not last the whole flight and charging places tend to be limited in economy. Airlines that provided backpacks filled with toys, get extra stars. Check online for airline reviews and make sure that they are child friendly. As a general rule, the more things the airline offers for kids, the more kid friendly they are. Book the kid’s meal as they always get fed first. In my experience Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Lufthansa are awesome. Emirates is great but the 14 hour flight from Dubai to New York is very long for small children. Avoid our national carrier like the plague.
2. In the USA, most airlines offer kids under 5 fly for free, ride buses for free and can get into a number of attractions for free. Restaurants often have deals that allow kids under 12 to eat for free as long as an adult is buying a meal. Google the area that you are visiting for kid friendly deals.
3. Almost every hotel has family rooms that sleep 4 and they are often the same price or only slightly more expensive than a standard room. This makes travel with small kid’s very budget friendly. This works for as long as your kids are willing to share a room with you.
4. Self-catering places are known as vacation homes and they are often very budget friendly for families if you plan to stay in an area for a few nights. Check out Air Bnb for ideas.
5. Food is generally purchased in bulk containers at their supermarkets. Buy some resealable plastic bags and decant snacks and other foods. Food is cheap and the variety is huge. You will be amazed by all the kid friendly foods like Goldfish Crackers and string cheese. It is harder to find healthy food but it is there. Check out places like Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods.
6. Hit the outlet malls. You can buy Gap, Gucci and other big brands for the same price as you would pay for Ackermans or Mr Price here. I go big and buy my kids clothes for the next two years. You should of course treat yourself and have a massive shopping spree.
7. If you have the time and the funds, go to Disney World. Your kids will love you for it. Disney World would have to be a whole separate post but it really is worth it. The tickets are expensive but there is nothing quite like it.
8. Let your kids eat McDonalds, Dennys and all the other junk. You are on holiday!!
9. Pack snacks and bottles of juice and water for your days out. Food and drink is very expensive at most attractions. The great part is that most attractions will let you take your own food and drink in.
10. Try to limit your trip to one or two States, depending on the length of your holiday. America is huge in a way that we just can’t comprehend. You will not be able to see everything that you would like to see in one trip.
Enjoy your trip and most importantly relax. When you travel with kids, you can’t run around seeing things all day. They get tired quickly, so break up the day with swims, naps and calm activities.
Photo from h3dwallpapers